After five weeks of play for most of the league, we’re starting to get a feel for each team’s identity. Every NFL team entered the season with certain expectations for what their 2017 season would hold. And how each team is doing relative to those expectations reflects on their head coach.
Head Coaches live and die by their team’s success or lack of it. As we all know, the NFL often stands for “Not For Long”, and that can apply to coaches as easily as it can to players. Short term failure can be tolerated, but the coach whose team consistently falls short would be wise to keep a few spare boxes behind his office door.
Sometimes there’s a sense of relative calm for winless teams even after four or five games of futility. Sometimes, it’s just part of the process. This year, though, that doesn’t seem to be the case. So who’s looking over their shoulder already and who isn’t? Let’s take a look at all the 0 or 1 win teams.
Los Angeles Chargers: 1-4
Head Coach: Anthony Lynn
Temperature: Chilly (2/10)
Lynn isn’t sweating anything yet. The season has certainly been off to a disappointing start for his squad, but Lynn is a rookie head coach in the toughest division in the NFL. He’ll get cut his share of slack and will get a pass for 2017. A repeat performance in 2018 would probably be problematic for him, though.
Chicago Bears: 1-4
Head Coach: John Fox
Temperature: Getting Sweaty (7/10)
Despite the win, John Fox is coaching for his job in his third year leading the Bears. And he should be. Fox has severely mismanaged the team’s quarterback situation, including giving rookie Mitch Tribusky his first NFL start against one of the toughest defenses in the league. For a coach who’s renowned for his ability to take any bad team and make them a .500 club, Foxy sure isn’t living up to the hype.
The more I see of Foxy coaching other teams, and the more I see of the Broncos without him, the more I’m convinced that John Fox is a bad head coach with occasional bouts of mediocrity. The dude is basically Jeff Fisher, but with a more likeable face and a reduced tendency to stick his foot in his mouth.
San Francisco 49ers: 0-5
Head Coach: Kyle Shanahan
Temperature: Frozen (1/10)
How can an 0-5 head coach have no worries about his job? First, be a rookie head coach. Instant leeway. Second, be coaching a team that’s very obvious in a rebuild. More instant leeway. Third, have that team playing competitively enough to lose 4 of those 5 games by 3 points or less. And considering that two of those close losses were against the Seahawks and Rams, that’s not bad.
Frankly, I think Shanahan is doing pretty well. He doesn’t have a premier situation to work with, but while the results aren’t showing on the W/L board yet he’s got his team playing competitively. A QB whose name isn’t Brian Hoyer would go a long way toward taking those close losses and turning them into close wins.
Cleveland Browns: 0-5
Head Coach: Hue Jackson
Temperature: Toasty (5/10)
The Browns are 0-5 in a season where they were supposed to finally start being more competitive. It doesn’t matter how bad the opponent is, they find ways to lose. They lost 3 of those games by only 3 points apiece, so clearly there’s something there at least, but the Browns suffer from several major negatives that the 49ers don’t:
First, it’s Jackson’s second year as head coach. That means the rope is automatically shorter, especially in the Browns organization which rarely gives coaches a third year to prove themselves. Second, they’ve been in utter chaos at QB from day 1 this season. Kevin Hogan will be their 2nd regular season QB starting this weekend, and at times both Cody Kessler and Brock Osweiler looked like favorites to start as well. Some say that if you have 2 QBs in the NFL, you really have none. So what does it mean if you’ve got 4 QBs?
Third... it’s the Browns, people. Organizational culture is a real thing, with a real impact on outcomes. Jackson is caught up in the Browns’ giant, dirty snowball of fail at this point, and that means his chances of stopping it are slim to none.
New York Giants: 0-5
Head Coach: Ben McAdoo
Temperature: This Coach is on Fiiirrreee! (9/10)
I’m forecasting here a bit, but come on. Is there a redeeming feature of Ben McAdoo’s situation right now? I sure can’t think of one.
Let’s review: He 1) lost almost his entire WR corps in one game, 2) is fielding one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL, 3) can’t get a rushing attack going to save his job, 4) has a starting QB dealing with a neck injury, 5) can’t beg, buy, borrow, or steal a win in a season in which his team was supposed to be a Super Bowl contender, and 6) has mismanaged the entire situation so badly that he had to suspend one of his starting cornerbacks (and cripple his pass defense) because the player was so fed up he lost all respect for McAdoo and just walked out. Repeatedly.
There’s probably more. But what seems clear is that McAdoo has taken an increasingly bad situation and critical injuries and, rather than inspiring his team and getting them back on their feet, has allowed the situation to devolve to the point that he may have already lost the locker room.
The Giants have a Week 8 bye. If things continue to devolve for the team at the rate they’ve been going lately, don’t be too shocked if the G-men have a new head coach when they return from their bye in Week 9.
So let’s get a live look at Mr. McAdoo, just to see how he (& his chair) are holding up:
Notes on Going Winless
In researching this post, I looked into the history of winless NFL teams. Specifically, I looked at winless teams through five weeks of play. That’s a bit random, and I’ll probably do a post at some point with a more sensible framework such as comparing winless teams after four and eight games played. But for the time being, here are some interesting notes:
- The one and only NFL season since the merger that had no winless teams after 5 weeks of play was 1990.
- Out of 48 seasons since the merger, 15 seasons had just one winless team at this point, 12 seasons had two, 15 seasons have had three, and 6 seasons have had four.
- Only one team in the NFL has never been winless after 5 weeks of play: the Baltimore Ravens.
- Only 6 teams have been winless through five games only once each since the merger: the Pittsburgh Steelers, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Seattle Seahawks... and the Denver Broncos (1994).
- Which teams have been winless through 5 the most often? Perhaps surprisingly, (at least to younger fans) the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cincinnati Bengals nearly lap the field with 9 such seasons apiece, ahead of a six-way tie for 2nd among teams with 5 such seasons.
- Winless seasons through 5 weeks of play for rival franchises: Oakland Raiders (2), Kansas City Chiefs (2), San Diego Chargers (4), New England Patriots (2).
You call it: Which 1 or 0 win coach will be the first to lose their job this season?
This poll is closed
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